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PRODOC and InDesign

Adobe InDesign® is the standard for sophisticated brochures and flyers with a high-quality layout. At PRODOC Translations, we have been using Indesign for more than 10 years to produce brochures and flyers.

We also have extensive experience in translating InDesign files.

We know how to implement your layout perfectly, even in Russian, for example.

Areas of application for InDesign

Our customers use Adobe InDesign for the following applications:

InDesign used by PRODOC customers

InDesign is popular across all industries and is used by almost all of our customers

Translate InDesign files directly

PRODOC can translate InDesign files for brochures and flyers directly. This is highly convenient for us and saves time in the preparation and postprocessing of the files.

Graphic designer at Concorde Reisemobile
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Optimization of InDesign files for the translation workflow

You will find valuable information on how to prepare and carry out follow-up work on Adobe InDesign files so that the entire workflow for the technical translation with CAT tools is as cost-effective as possible.

More information on the use of InDesign can be obtained directly from the manufacturer.

We assume that the scenario is as follows:

  • One or more InDesign files are translated from German to Chinese
  • Graphics are language-neutral
  • The Screenshots in the document are in German – in the Chinese translation, however, English screenshots should be used

Checking Adobe InDesign files

Unlike Microsoft Word files, with Adobe InDesign files you can generally assume that the author has been well trained and knows their way around character, paragraph, table and object formats.

You should check this anyway, and for this purpose you can have the control characters displayed.

Show control characters

In InDesign, you can show the control characters using the menu option Text->Show hidden characters (Alt+Ctrl+I).

The control characters in the screenshot above have the following meaning:

  1. Space
  2. Indent to here
  3. Tabulator characters
  4. End of text
  5. Hyphenation
  6. Line break
  7. Paragraph break

Detecting errors in an Adobe InDesign file

Formatting lists without paragraph formats

The following three formats of lists can be found again and again:

  1. The indent is generated with space characters and a manual break at the end of the line – this is no proper formatting and will lead to a ragged end of the line in the German text already
  2. Using the Indent to here function can be problematic, as shown below
  3. The indent is generated with tabs, manual break at the end of the line – also bad because the CAT tool does not offer WYSIWYG or any other preview and the translator will not know where to place the manual break and tabs.
Insufficient space in text frame

Designers like to work with text frames in InDesign, with which you can place text in the exact location where it is supposed to appear.

This leads to problems when the translated text requires more space. Translations from German into French, Italian, Portuguese and other Romance languages usually require more space. When translating from German into English and into Asian languages such as Chinese, the translated text usually requires less space.

Text frames should provide sufficient space for longer texts:

Text frame 1 has very little space and could be too small for translated texts.

Text frames 2 and 3 provide sufficient space for longer text.

Indent to here

Adobe InDesign has a popular special function: Type -> Add special characters -> Other -> Indent to here.
The character will appear in InDesign like this:

Do not use this special character!

Most CAT tool import filters cannot interpret it correctly, which can lead to layout problems in the translated files.

  • Instead, define suitable paragraph formats for the indent.

Optimizing an Adobe InDesign file

Make sure text frames are linked to automatically continue text from one frame to the next.

For information on linking text frames in InDesign, see the Adobe Help.

Automatically place text in next frame

For example, you can define paragraph formats for headings so that the paragraph is at the beginning of a text frame.

To do this, press F11 to open the Paragraph formats window, right-click the paragraph format you want to edit, and choose Edit Paragraph Format.

In the next screenshot, headings formatted in this way are highlighted in green. You can clearly see that the text frames are linked and the text runs from frame 1 to frame 2, although there is still enough space at the bottom of frame 1.

Such paragraph formatting are a good preparation for longer translated text. There is still enough space in frames 1 and 2. In this way you avoid time-consuming formatting of translated texts.

Further break options for paragraph formats

The settings for page breaks with Adobe InDesign can be found under Paragraph format options->Break options.

  • Under do not separate from the next xx lines, you can specify the number of lines of the following paragraph with which the last line of the current paragraph always appears on a page for the selected paragraph format.
  • You can make further adjustments to the break behavior of the current paragraph format by putting a tick in the Do not separate lines box

In this specific case, a paragraph formatted with Heading1 always wraps completely with the first two lines of the next paragraph. This prevents orphaned headings at the end of a page.

Definition of paragraph formats for lists in InDesign

Formatting a list of tabs, line breaks, and spaces results in significant formatting effort for the translated file

A good formatting definition for lists looks as follows:

  1. A left indentation of 20mm (1) was defined.
  2. A tab position (2) was defined that corresponds with the left indent (1) for the remaining text.
  3. The first line was moved 20mm to the left (3).

Paragraphs formatted with it then look like this:

Only the bullet point is at the start of the line, followed by a tab.

The translated text starts after the tab and then flows automatically to the correct position in the next line.

The formatting is always the same, even if the translated text contains more or less lines than the original text.

Use special characters

It is often desirable to keep certain character sequences in the same line. This applies to figures with units (e.g. 8 kg) as well as fixed expressions such as Adobe InDesign.

The above example with DIN EN ISO 13849-1 shows

  1. Line break after a space in the middle of the term
  2. Line break after a hyphen in the middle of the term
  3. Avoid line breaks with a non-breaking space character
  4. Avoid line breaks with a non-breaking hyphen

Insert a non-breaking space with Alt+Strg+X.

A non-breaking hyphen with Alt+Strg+-.

Advantage: these characters are retained in the translation. You therefore no longer need to check all occurrences of such character sequences for unwanted wrapping after translation.

You can find more information on this topic under Special characters.

Keep graphics language-neutral in the Adobe InDesign file

Graphics inserted in Adobe InDesign should not contain any language information whatsoever. The CAT tool cannot extract texts from inserted graphics, and these will not be translated.

Special treatment is given to screenshots. See screenshots below.

There are two ways of keeping graphics language-neutral:

Text frames

In InDesign, you can place text frames over a graphic:

Remove the text from the graphic completely and insert a text frame in the same location in InDesign instead:

Careful: there can be problems, if there is too little space for text in the graphic. Because the text frames should – see above – have enough space for longer translated text.


Instead, you can also edit the graphic itself and insert numbers instead of texts.

In InDesign, add a table with the numbers and their labels next to or below the graphic.

Choosing a suitable file format for screenshots

Screenshots usually have large areas with a uniform color value. File formats which provide good quality with high compression are:

Do not chose the popular JPEG format under any circumstances. This is optimal for photos but can make screenshots illegible.

Naming screenshots in a language-dependent and consistent way

In order to differentiate between screenshots which have the same content but different languages and be able to assign them, we recommend that you use the same filename and add a suffix to identify the language:

  • Main_Screen_DE.tif
  • Main_Screen_EN.tif

Sending an Adobe InDesign file to PRODOC

We provide our customers all of the possibilities – from translation only up to complete layout processing by us.

Complete translation and layout service by PRODOC

If you would like us to take over the entire layout, then please compress all InDesign files, images, screenshots and fonts into a ZIP file that you can then send to us via ShareFile. How this is done is described in our Sharefile instructions.

Always let us know which version of InDesign (CS5, CS5.5, CS6, CC2015, CC2018…) was used to create the file so that we can use the correct version to open the file.

PRODOC translates – the customer does the layout

If you would like to do as much as possible yourself in order to cut down external costs, you can do the conversion into the Adobe InDesign *.idml exchange format and create the necessary PDF files yourself.

Files required for technical translation

PDF files

Our translators need to see the original text and graphics. PDF format can be used for this, since it is easily generated, compact and can be viewed by anyone using the freely-available Acrobat Reader. Generate a PDF file each from every Adobe InDesign file to be translated.

InDesign files

InDesign files have the file extension *.indd. If a large number of graphics are incorporated these files can become extremely big because they are stored together with a rough view of the graphics.

The *.indd  files cannot be imported directly into the CAT tool. We require *.idml files to do this.

These can be created easily using the menu item File->Save As...:

Foreign-language screenshots

If the file to be translated contains German screenshots and the translated file is to show foreign-language screenshots, they need to be created before starting the translation.

Select the file name for translated screenshots in such a way that they can be correctly assigned to the German screenshots.

In any case, we require the foreign-language screenshots as a reference for the technical translator even if you want to do the layout of the translated file yourself.

Send files

Pack all PDF and IDML files as well as the German and foreign language screenshots in a Zip file.

  • If the ZIP file is smaller than 2MB, send it to us via email or our Contact form.
  • If the ZIP file is larger than 2MB or contains confidential files, send the file to us via ShareFile.

Carrying out the layout of the translated InDesign files yourself

Store data

Copy original data

Copy the folder that contains your own source files for the technical translation, rename it and delete the InDesign files.

Rename and move translated IDML files

To avoid having files with the same name with different contents in different folders, it is recommended to rename every translated IDML file.

Move the translated and renamed IDML files to the location of the original InDesign files and open them.

If screenshots, which now have a foreign-language version in the graphic folder, were linked to the file, the following error message appears:

Acknowledge the error message with OK and then open the linking window with Shift+Ctrl+D.

Double-click on the red question mark for each IDML file, and assign them to the correct screenshot.

Carrying out necessary corrections

Even if you have taken all the measures in advance in order to automate the layout of the translated text as far as possible, adjustments to the text and graphics can still be necessary due to differing text lengths.

Adapting page breaks

Depending on the formatting settings and text lengths, the following may occur:

  • Unwanted empty spaces
  • Texts that belong together divided between two pages.

Adapt the page break in accordance with your requirements. It is preferable to use the break options (Ctrl+Alt+K).

Adjusting the line breaks

Even if the correct spell check dictionary is already selected after processing with the CAT tool or InDesign, unwanted separations may have occurred due to selecting unsuitable separation specifications.

Examine the ends of the lines in the document and correct any unwanted separations.

The following may occur:

Line break errorsRemedy

Separation of numbers and unitsInsert non-breaking separator (Alt+Ctrl+X)
Separation of two words which are connected with a hyphenInsert non-breaking hyphen (Alt+Ctrl+-)
Unwanted word separationInsert hard line break (Shift+Enter)

Adjust text frames

If several text boxes have been used per page, they may be too small.

Text that does not fit completely into a frame is marked with a small red plus sign at the bottom right of the frame:

  • Increase the size of the text frame until the entire text is displayed.

Do you want to translate Indesign files?

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Sanne Jerxsen

Dipl.-Kffr. Sanne Jerxsen

Administrative director

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